Whenever the user makes an attempt to communicate, Expansion and Extension are strategies to respond to their utterances, while helping them develop language at the same time. 

Language expansion or restating

When your child says something, you repeat it back to them, along with filling in the missing grammar elements and a few missing words. This is called expansion.

Restate or Rephrase and reiterate the user's words or utterances by completing the sentence with appropriate grammatical markers.  You are not rephrasing dramatically but simply honing the statement to be more robust. 

For example, if your child says “bike”, you say “Yes! It IS a BIKE!” (It helps to use different tones and stresses on each word appropriately, to catch your child’s attention) If your child says “Car go!” you would say something like “Yes! The CAR is Going!.”  (Don’t say “Car went” since that is altering the original statement too much.)


There are two things at play here. 

  1. By repeating and expanding your child’s language, you are staying within the realms of responding without directly “correcting” them. 
  2. By repeating - you’ve acknowledged that the child has successfully conveyed something to you and will be motivated. Up the game very very gradually i.e. expand using more words, bend words (Ex: go- went) as you go along. 

More examples: 

  • If the user taps on “more” you can expand it by saying “Yes, you want more juice” 

  • If the user taps on “banana”, you can expand it by saying “Yes, you want banana” etc. while emphasing the bolded words while speaking the sentence aloud. 

  • If the user says "birdy fly" you could expand the utterance by saying "Yes, the bird is flying" or 

  • If the user says “daddy go”, you can expand it by saying “Yes, daddy is going”. 


  1. Try to add only 1 or 2 words when you do expansions. That provides a little new information without being overwhelming.
  2. Try to use grammatically correct phrases or sentences when you expand utterances


Language extension

Extension is similar to expansion but goes one level further. When your child says something, not only do you expand his language by adding the missing grammar, you also extend it by adding new information, but one at a time. 

Extend the child's “sentences” to the way an adult says them, then add an additional, related comment. 


  • If the child says, "car go," you can say, "The car is going. It is a red car." 
  • If the child says, "doggy  run", you can say, "The dog is running. He is a big dog."
  • If the child says, "bird fly", you can say, "The bird is flying. It is flying in the sky"

Expansion and extension seem to work best with toddlers and young preschoolers, or children whose language levels match those of a typical toddler or young preschooler. These children often imitate, which we think helps them to grow their language. 


Research seems to indicate that many children learn language faster when their parents use more conversational language-learning strategies like expansion and extension, as compared to parents who are more directive with their children.  And use of these techniques is also linked to longer utterances in children - in other words, children who are exposed to these types of responsive language facilitation techniques seem to use longer sentences overall. 


Related articles: 

How to use Expansion and Extension strategies for building language - Avaz blog

References: Courtesy - Internet

Language Expansion vs. Language Extension— What’s the Difference? By Kevin Stuckey, M.Ed., CCC-SLP

Strategies to Help Your Child Talk: Using Expansions and Extensions - By Katie - Playing with words 365

Using expansion and extension to grow

Compiled by : Octave Speech and Hearing, Bangalore